Green MP Julie Anne Genter's bike ride to give birth draws global attention

Julie Anne Genter's bike-ride to hospital was described "very on brand", and it seems the world agrees, with international media lauding her for tying together her ministerial roles.

The 38-year-old Green Party MP cycled to hospital on her electric bike on Sunday to give birth to her first child. She said in the post she was going for an induction, adding that cycling to hospital put her in "the best possible mood". 

While some speculated Ms Genter's social media post was a publicity stunt, Greens co-leader James Shaw praised the Minister for Women's decision to cycle to hospital to give birth as "very on brand" at the party's annual conference on Sunday.

The story was soon picked up by world media, with a report by ABC News Australia highlighting the positive comments she received on her Instagram post. The majority of comments were "congratulatory and positive" the report said.  

"The latest post is just part of a well established theme where Ms Genter uses every opportunity to promote cycling - the keen cyclist even employed pedal power when first announcing her pregnancy."

Ms Genter was also praised by CNN, with the US TV network describing her decision to cycle to hospital to give birth as neatly tying together her ministerial roles as Minister for Women and Associate Minister for Transport and for Health.  

CNN described the US-born minister who moved to New Zealand in 2006 as a "strong cycling advocate" after she posted an image to Facebook of a couple on bikes with a baby saying "we're going to have to get an additional seat for the bikes". 

New Zealand's history of supporting women's rights was underlined in an editorial by the Guardian, which highlighted the "sense of hopefulness among women" Ms Genter described after witnessing more government ministers becoming mothers for the first time. 

Ms Genter will be the second MP to give birth this year, after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, also 38, who recently returned to office after giving birth to her daughter Neve in late June. Ms Genter is expected to take three months of parental leave and return to Parliament in early November.

The Guardian editorial said having babies in office is "far from new for Kiwi politicians", alluding to Labour's Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan who was the first woman to give birth while an MP in 1970. National's Ruth Richardson also raised eyebrows as the first to breastfeed at work in 1983.  

The New York Times' article on Ms Genter also focused on New Zealand's progressiveness, pointing to the lifting of a ban on children using the parliamentary swimming pool and plans underway to build a playground on the Beehive's front lawn. 

"During New Zealand's election last year  which brought the center-left Labour Party, led by Ms. Ardern, to power  at least five lawmakers were parents of children less than a year old," the report says. "That prompted an attempt by Parliament to make the legislative complex more family friendly."

And again, New Zealand's legislative support for women was highlighted by the BBC, in a report saying Ms Genter "joins a number of politicians who have had babies while in office". 

The BBC report also praised Australia for changing rules in 2016 to allow lawmakers to breastfeed while in the chamber of the House of Representatives. 

Mr Shaw will take on Ms Genter's transport and health portfolios during her time out of office, while Green MP Eugenie Sage will take on the role of Acting Minister for Women.